I hope that as a small business owner you believe that the customer experience still matters, even though you are small. The customer experience matters even if you are a solo business owner. And you might think that if you are the only employee that you are in complete control of the customer experience; I would have to disagree. Let's dive into the details.
When Does The Customer Experience Begin?
Does the customer experience begin when they sign the contract and become a customer? No, absolutely not, in fact, it is long before that.
The customer experience begins when the prospective customer first learns about you. Whether that be from a cold call, a referral from a friend or business colleague, or through a Google search.
I'm a big inbound marketing believer, so let's stick with the scenario where a prospect finds you through a Google search.
Where do you show up in my Google search? 1st? Top 10?
What is the messaging on your homepage?
Is it clear what you do?
Can you solve my problem?
Do I like what I see?
Is it easy to navigate around your website?
The customer experience starts well before they have reached out to your business or talked with you.
Marketing's Role In The Customer Experience
It is the marketing department's role to attract potential customers to your service and/or product. The design and content of their messaging is critical.
The prospect needs to be wowed. Every interaction with the company during the marketing phase needs to be positive and relevant.
Today's customer is empowered with a lot of choices and a lot of information. They are in control.
So, the first time they visit your website, get an email, or a phone call it better be a positive experience.
Marketing and in some cases sales are the prospects first physical touch during their customer experience, and it better be amazing.
Sales Role In The Customer Experience
Salespeople get a bad rap. Many associate sales with sleazy people that want to just trick you into buying from them; think used car salesman.
Sales isn't about tricks, it is about helping.
Sales isn't about selling to everyone, it is about qualifying those that you can help and disqualifying those that you can't.
Think about it, if you sell your product or service to someone that doesn't really want it or need it, do you think that is a good sale? Do you think that will end well for the customer? More importantly, do you think that will end well for your business?
I was talking with my brother a few weeks ago about customer churn. He said two things that really stuck out to me:
"You only have to bring on people that you can be successful with long term."
"Customer retention problems are rooted in sales execution; the types of customers you bring on and the expectations you set for them."
Sales is about helping. And if you can't help then you shouldn't.
Onboarding A New Customer
The prospect said yes! Marketing and sales did their job. Money has most likely exchanged hands and you have a new customer.
Bringing a new customer into your business is an extremely crucial step. If there are any inconsistencies with what your team delivers and what your customer was told, it is not going to go well.
It is onboarding's job to fully understand this particular customers needs and deliver on the expectations that have been set. This brings up a crucial point.
If sales sets expectations with the customer but does not fully relay that information to the onboarding team, then the customer will be under-delivered to.
Ongoing ServiceAfter a customer has signed up and gone through onboarding they will go into recurring services. How do you continue to wow them day in and day out, year after year?
How do you create value ongoing for your customer?
How do you not let your service go stale?
Well, you definitely always have to be looking out for your customer and their best interests. You have to remain an industry leader constantly bringing them new ideas and technologies that make things better for them.
You have to continually add value to your customer or they won't remain a customer for the long-term.
Customer Service And Success
Much of the inspiration from this blog post came from watching a video on Inbound Customer Success that Hubspot put out. If you have the time watch the video, or at least the first half of it, it is very good.
In the video, Michael Redbord, the GM of HubSpot Customer Hub goes over the 3 S's of customer experience; support, service, and success.
Support, he defines as reacting to customer needs. Support is something that is transactional and that is also initiated by the customer. Think about a customer problem you have had where you need to call, email, or chat a company.
Service, he defines as a proactive event. Michael defines it well by saying, "Hi customer I have something for you." This is a proactive event because your business is reaching out to your customer trying to help them or add value without being asked for it.
Success, he defines as letting your customer know about something else you offer. This is increasing your value to your customer even further. Michael goes on to say, "Success is about expanding your value for your business and your customer's business."
You are a small business owner, right? Would you say that you offer customer support, service, success, or all of the above?
I guarantee you that if 90% of you answer that honestly, you would say support and maybe service. Meaning, you only help your customers when they have an issue and you service them by delivering what you promised.
Don't you agree that you are only doing part of the job and you are selling your business and your client's business short?
I can't tell you how many times I have heard from co-workers, clients, prospects etc the phrase "putting out fires." You know you have said it.
That is how the majority of small businesses serve their customers, they solve issues (or put out fires) when they come up.
Stop just servicing your customers and start helping them succeed.
So what's your take? Tell us about your experience with customer support, service, and success in your small business.
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